3D Textures Using Photoshop Channels
In this example I will create a
3D leaf just using Photoshop 4.0, a technique that can be applied
to other objects and shapes.
1 Begin with a base color in the shape of a
Start by creating a 72 DPI new
document with a white background. Because this technique requires
lots of ram, low resolution like this will keep the file sizes
down and speeds up. Select a leaf shape using the lasoo tool.
Using your paintbrush and/or airbrush tools, fill it with leafy
colors. I've made a simple green leaf with some slight yellow
feathering at the edges for simplicity. Your leaf can be any
colors you like.
Make a new channel
Using the channels toolbox, make a new channel. It will want
to call itself "#4". The image turns black and your
leaf shaped selection remains active. Fill the selected area
with white. This channel will be used in the future to select
the leaf. More on that in a minute.
Figure 3 Make a
Click and drag the new channel, #4 onto the "create new
channel" button next to the "channels trash".
This will make another channel, an exact duplicate of "#4"
called "#5". This is where your texture map will be
Create your texture map
Inside the white area of channel 5, use your airbrush tool
to make simple shaded surfaces that look like the shapes of
a leaf. I deselected and then, using the lasoo tool, I selected
just the right side of the leaf to make a paint mask to give
the leaf a central spine. Remember, white is the high areas
and black are the low. Once you're satisfied with the texture
map you've made, deselect and then, holding down the keyboard
command button, click on channel #4. This will select that channel.
In a complex illustration this can be a valuable technique in
and of itself.
Make a new leaf layer
Click on the layers toolbox tab to bring it back up. Create
a new layer. Copy and paste the leaf color and shape onto the
new layer. I like to do this mainly to keep this object separate
from the rest of the illustration in case I want to move it
Figure 6 Lighting
effects for your leaf
This step is the turning point of this tutorial. Under the
filters pull down menu, under render, select lighting effects.
A dialogue box similar to the one above appears. Set the properties
and attributes similar to what appears in my screen shot. The
MOST important step however is to select channel #5 in the texture
channel area. This is what makes the texture. Experiment here
with different types of lights, directions of lights, colors
of lights, ambience, material properties (are leaves plastic
or metallic?) Click ok and see what you get. If you're not satisfied,
undo it and try again. It's never right the first time.
Figure 7 The finished
It might look like this. Your results may vary and that's ok.
It's now ready to add a drop shadow or be inserted into a new
The 3D Leaf
Here are a few other objects created using this technique.
The range of 3D fakery possible with this technique is almost
limitless, have fun. To see those examples, click here.
For more examples of Troy Paiva's work, see his entries in the
Digital Producer Magazine Gallery here.
Troy Paiva is a product designer/illustrator currently working
in the toy industry.
Visit his web site at http://www.designshed.com/
He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]